In the five years since King Stefan's death, Aurora has reigned as Queen of the Moors and Maleficent as its guardian and protector. Despite her service, the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead, home to Prince Phillip, deems Maleficent a villain, and although the King wishes for peace, his wife Queen Ingrith has been secretly preparing for war; in the hidden areas of the castle, workers make weapons and ammunition out of iron, deadly to all fairies.
Diaval, Maleficent's raven and confidante, overhears Phillip proposing to Aurora. When he has relayed this to Maleficent, she advises against the union, but Aurora insists she will be proven wrong.
Phillip's parents King John and Queen Ingrith host an intimate dinner, having invited Aurora and Maleficent. Maleficent maintains her composure as Ingrith taunts her throughout the evening by repeating the inaccurate story that has made the humans believe her to be evil: the story of Maleficent's sleeping curse on Aurora is only half the truth, because nobody has ever been told the whole truth about her loving Aurora and sacrificing herself to lift the curse. Ingrith alludes to King Stefan's death as murder, and openly claims Maleficent killed two human fairy poachers last seen near the Moors.
Maleficent responds with equal iciness that humans have been kidnapping fairies, and hints that she believes the order to do it comes from the King or Queen. When Ingrith dismisses Maleficent's maternal bond with Aurora and claims that the marriage will make Ingrith her real mother, Maleficent reacts by pulling herself up with her wings open wide, and the green light of her magic power swirls around her.
King John suddenly falls to the floor unconscious, and the Queen cries out that Maleficent has cursed him. Maleficent denies cursing him, but Aurora disbelieves her. Phillip urges his mother to try and awaken the King with a kiss. The Queen demurs, and her weak attempt fails because she does not love King John - a fact made obvious by her whispered words in the sleeping King's ear: “You wanted peace, now Rest In Peace forever.”
As Maleficent flees the castle, the Queen's right-hand, Gerda, shoots Maleficent with an iron bullet. Wounded, Maleficent falls into the ocean and is rescued by a mysterious winged creature. She awakens in a cavern where fairies like herself have been in hiding. Among them is Conall, their peaceful leader who saved Maleficent, and Borra, a warlike fairy who favors open conflict with humans; he killed the poachers near the Moors. Maleficent is among the last creatures known as Dark Phoenix Fae, powerful fairies forced into hiding and nearly driven extinct by human oppression. She is also the last descendant from the Phoenix, an ancient and powerful Dark Fae ancestor. Because Maleficent's magic is so powerful, Conall and Borra believe she is instrumental in ending the conflict with humans, either by peace or war.
Meanwhile, Aurora grows disillusioned with being an Ulstead noblewoman but is happy that the magical denizens of the Moor are invited to the royal wedding.
Aurora discovers that Queen Ingrith hates all Moor fairy folk. When the Queen learns that Aurora knows, she reveals that she bitterly resents the Moor's prosperity during a time when her kingdom suffered. She also blames them for her brother's death. The Queen plots to eradicate all fairies and woodland beings using the iron weapons as well as a lethal crimson powder developed by Lickspittle, a de-winged pixie.
Aurora learns that Queen Ingrith cursed King John, using Maleficent's old cursed spindle, and regrets not believing Maleficent. When the Moor folk arrive, they are trapped inside the castle chapel. At Queen Ingrith's command, Gerda unleashes the deadly crimson powder by playing the chapel's organ. The fairy Flittle selflessly sacrifices herself to save everyone as a last resort by clogging the organ, rendering the organ unplayable, while fairies Knotgrass and Thistlewit cause Gerda to fall to her death.
The Dark Fae launch an assault on Ulstead but soldiers begin massacring them until Maleficent, channeling her Phoenix power, joins the battle. She nearly kills Queen Ingrith but Aurora appeals to Maleficent's humanity to spare her, and declares that Maleficent is her only mother. With Maleficent distracted, the Queen fires her crossbow. Maleficent saves Aurora, but is struck by the arrow, dissolving into ashes. Devastated, Aurora mourns Maleficent's apparent death but after Aurora's tears fall on the ashes, Maleficent is reborn as a Phoenix. Horrified and infuriated, Queen Ingrith throws Aurora off the tower, prompting Maleficent to save her. As she flees, Queen Ingrith is stopped by Borra and the other Dark Fae.
Phillip forges peace between the fairies and humans and the Ulstead soldiers stand down. Maleficent reverts to her fairy form and gives Aurora and Phillip her blessing. Upon receiving the spindle used to curse the King from Lickspittle, Maleficent destroys it and its curse, awakening King John from his slumber. As punishment for her crimes, Queen Ingrith is turned into a goat by Maleficent - until she can accept the peace between the two people.
After Aurora and Philip wed, Maleficent returns to the Moors with the other Dark Fae. She promises to return when there is a christening.
- Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
- Elle Fanning as Aurora
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith
- Ed Skrein
- Sam Riley as Diaval
- Harris Dickinson as Prince Phillip
- Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass
- Juno Temple as Thistlewit
- Lesley Manville as Flittle
- Chiwetel Ejiofor
To be added